Batteries that don’t have time to recover fully and criminals taking advantage of power cuts are two of the factors making life difficult for South Africa’s mobile networks as Eskom’s rolling blackouts continue into a sixth day.
That’s according to MTN South Africa, which said in a statement that load shedding — and particularly the unprecedented stage-6 power cuts implemented by Eskom on Monday evening — are making it difficult for it to keep networks operational.
Base station batteries generally have a capacity of six to 12 hours, depending on the site category, and require 12 to 18 hours to recharge, which in stage-3 and -4 load shedding is not happening, said corporate affairs executive Jacqui O’Sullivan in the statement.
“This situation is exacerbated with the introduction of stage-6 load shedding,” she said. “The majority of MTN’s sites have been equipped with battery backup systems to ensure there is enough power on site to run the systems for several hours when local power goes down. However, the frequency of load shedding is resulting in batteries not having enough time to recharge.
“The constant outages are starting to have a direct impact on the performance of the batteries. If stage-6 outages continue, the battery’s integrity is compromised because of the insufficient time to recharge and due to the excessive drain on the battery.”
Criminal activity is also harming the network and adding to costs as the operator has to hire on-site security to protect batteries, generators and other equipment from thieves and vandals.
“Network operators across the country have been battling sophisticated syndicates that have been stealing batteries daily. However, load shedding is seeing entire neighbourhoods cloaked in darkness at predictable times, which is offering criminals greater cover for their thieving,” O’Sullivan said.
“The extent of the outages has placed a significant strain on MTN’s overall network resources and teams have had to be reassigned from growth projects to emergency management of sites, due to the load shedding.”
She said MTN is sourcing more generators to support its infrastructure, while site output is being managed to further enhance efficiencies and regional “war rooms” have been established to ensure the company has an hour-by-hour account of its systems.
“Teams of technicians are being redeployed as and, where required, additional shifts are being added to restore and maintain connectivity as quickly as possible.” — © 2019 NewsCentral Media
This article was first published on TechCentral here, and republished with permission.